We are 8 days (!) away from 2020 so I’ve been doing a lot of reflection. I like to use this time to think about my growth: what I’ve overcome and the things that I still struggle with.
This year, it was particularly hard to admit when something was difficult for me. I thought admission made me weak. We’re always told to “play on our strengths”, so naturally, I hid some of my strongest battles. I recently had a conversation with God about the current state of my heart. I honestly felt like a great pretender. As I poured my heart out to Him, He led me to the second book of Corinthians. I stumbled upon this verse said by Jesus Christ to Paul in Chapter 12:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
I was stunned. God speaks to us in many ways, and I happen to hear Him best when He leads me directly to His word. It was a verse that stuck with me for days. There is absolutely nothing wrong in admitting my weaknesses. In order for Christ’s power to work in me, I must humbly submit everything to Him and that includes the very things I struggle with. That is how I can glorify God. So, for anyone who is struggling, please know that you are not alone! Here are four things that I struggle with daily:
1. I struggle with self-doubt
I have the tendency to shrink because I don’t always see myself as being worthy. This mindset might have developed as the result of life experiences, some traumatic. I have also internalized critical feedback I’ve received in the past, which has made me super critical of myself. It’s become a self-destructive cycle where I find myself overthinking the things I desire to do, rather than actually doing those things. My self-talk and mindset is getting better. I am currently learning that my heavenly gifts are to be utilized during my time on Earth. I keep in mind that while I am serving others, I am only pleasing an audience of One.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:10-11 (NIV)
2. I struggle with social anxiety
Others have told me that I come across as really confident, articulate, and cordial. What if I told you I’ve had to seriously fake it to make it? As a child, I was always timid. It wasn’t until adulthood that I found myself learning how to connect with others. But at an outing, I am still usually the first to leave when it’s over. Sometimes, I completely dread the idea of attending interactive events. I get very nervous when I have to speak in front of others. The thought of making small talk makes me cringe. I have truly mastered the art of enjoying my own company.
Avoiding my anxiety for many years has caused me to miss out on opportunities to have real community. And honestly, it is one of my biggest regrets. It’s only been recently that I have tried to find healing and to change my internal narrative. I also think it’s no accident that I have encountered some amazing people in my life recently. This year, I’ve taken proactive steps to reduce my social anxiety by building more authentic relationships. It is definitely not easy, but I am learning how to develop more confidence in this area.
“When anxiety was great within me, Your consolation brought me joy.” (Psalm 94:19 NIV)
3. I struggle with comparing myself to others
This one gets me every time and it’s honestly triggering. The biggest comparison game I was playing this year is the one dealing with success. I can’t tell you how many social media breaks I took this year alone, but they were many. Whether or not it’s good or bad, I realize I was allowing what others were doing to affect my self-esteem. This year I felt stuck and I was questioning my purpose. I was definitely dealing with anxiety and post-graduation depression, especially during the summer months.
I really had to lean on God because I was literally going through it. There have been so many tears shed over feeling like a total failure. In hindsight, I know that I am doing a lot better than I think I am. But, that doesn’t mean I still don’t have my triggers. I am glad though that I have a beautiful network of people who can pour into me.
4. I struggle with holding grudges
I am a Christian who struggles with forgiveness. There is a quote by Nelson Mandela that says, “resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Ouch. Normally, it would be embarrassing to admit that I harbor feelings of anger or resentment, or bitterness…but I realize that I do. As a child, I rarely spoke up when someone wronged me but I always remembered what happened. This pattern emerged in adulthood. I may act like it’s no big deal when I am slighted. Yet, I realize that by not addressing someone else’s hurtful behaviors, I begin to see that person in a negative light. I start taking everything personally. This includes being frequently irritated by the person, looking for fault, or lacking the propensity to extend forgiveness.
Yet, God is not just forgiving, He is also forgetful. When we come to Him repenting of sin, He puts it out of His mind and give us another opportunity to get it right. He welcomes us with open arms. “You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” Micah 7:19 (NIV). God doesn’t spend His time ruminating on our transgressions or harboring ill feelings. If He did those things, then biblical grace would not exist and Jesus’ death would have been in total vain. He has been showing me the importance of extending grace to others I encounter. And also, journaling a lot has been helping me to process these grievances. It’s a daily challenge that I am overcoming.
I realize that I cannot do anything in my own strength, and that is the mindset I am going in for the new year. God’s power is made perfect in my weakness. You may relate to my challenges, or you may have your own to face. We are experiencing our fair share of battles. And as brothers and sisters in Christ, we don’t have to fight them alone.
You’re totally right – We cannot do anything in our own strength. We need God and a great support system.
I struggled and still struggle with overthinking and anxiety but I’m happy that this year was better than the last. I made conscious effort to not let it significantly affect my career and relationship goals. I’m grateful that my boyfriend was very accommodating. We prayed about it occasionally and he was very helpful, calmly pointing out when I seemed triggered and would listen to all I had to say.
I hope that the year 2020 will be a better year for all of us.